Published: 24 March 2016

The Big Bang

Education, Events

The fair in full swing. (Image credit: Institution of Civil Engineers)

The Big Bang Fair is the largest single celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for young people in the UK, held annually at the NEC, Birmingham. This year the Institution’s education team helped introduce school children to civil and structural engineering careers. Nick von Behr, Education Manager, explains.

As Education Manager it’s my job to raise awareness about structural engineering as a career choice among both school and university students. The Big Bang Fair is the largest event we attend all year, welcoming over 70,000 visitors in 2015. It’s great to see such enthusiasm and excitement about STEM activities among so many young people and it’s a useful, informal arena to explain civil and structural engineering and the kind of subjects students need to study to pursue a career in these areas. 

We were thrilled to have support from eleven volunteers, all members of the Institution and from all stages of their structural engineering careers, from recent graduates to experienced professionals – this ensured a good spread of experience and advice for visitors to our stand.

We’re also very grateful to the Institution of Civil Engineers who designed, set up and manged our stand. Our activities attracted more than 1,500 students on the first day, who we introduced to the principles of civil and structural engineering through activities like bridge building. It’s great to see engineering institutions working together in this way, co-operating to help young people make the choices that are right for them, especially as UK schools still tend to focus on maths and science as core subjects – we’re working to address the balance more towards the T&E (Technology and Engineering) in STEM where we can.

If you want to know more about what structural engineers do, you can watch our video or look at our resources. For those interested in studying civil and structural engineering at university, we recommend a visit to our website, where you can download our university guide, which is packed with handy information and tips.

Thanks to everyone who visited our stand and all the young people who showed an interest – hopefully we inspired plenty of them to consider being the structural engineers of the future we so badly need! If you have any other questions about structural engineering education and careers just contact us and ask – we’ll be happy to help.

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